So Scoble starts referring to all the negative publicity about Longhorn in general and WinFS specifically as "Myths". This is what we call spin. Or counter-spin. The myths could be spin and Scobles post counter-spin, or maybe Longhorn is spin, the myths are counter-spin and Scobles post is counter-counter-spin. Maybe you could call that a Re-Spin. Anyway. You see there have been some recent articles that claimed that parts of Longhorn were already being dropped or trimmed. Scoble jumps in and implies that these are just myths, (counter?)-spinning Microsoft as the victim.

In particular he says these are the myths he is hearing:

  1. Longhorn won't ship until '09
  2. Longhorn won't include WinFS
  3. Even if it does include WinFS, there won't be any support for networking or remote data.

Are you willing to bet your business on the above myths?

Now reading Scoble's spin you'd be tempted to believe that there must be a hard schedule and a tight set of features that MS is planning on shipping. That's what I believed when I asked for a such a fixed list. I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is and I wanted to get a hard set of features before entering a wager. So I asked:

Robert, In order for us to have a bet, we need to know what we are betting against. So would you be willing to provide hard numbers you are willing to stand by?

1. When will Longhorn ship. (Down to the month please)

2. What subset of features would you consider a success? How about a simple list of features currently promised. Feel free to add or remove from this list at your discretion.

A - T-SQL queries

B - multi-master data synchronization across other Longhorn machines

C- " other data sources

And to flesh out the list lets list the document formats that WinFS will be able to reliably extract meta-data from:

D - All Office Formats (this is a gimme)

E - JPEG/GIF/PNG

F - PDF

G - WAV/MP3

H - Outlook address book

This set of capablities is what I gleaned from [1].

So he can choose a wide open ship date and a list of features I extracted from Microsoft's own documentation. So did I get some hard numbers I could wager against? Oh no. Instead this is what I got for a response:

Joe, of course I can't predict the exact date. I can tell you the scheduled date is in 2006, though.

I'll have a list of features for you at Beta1 (which should be next year sometime). Really until it hits Beta1 we're just talking probabilities.

Like I said, for the next year you can pretty much say whatever you like about Longhorn and there's not much I can do to refute it.

So Robert Scoble isn't willing to hazard a guess at a shipdate, not willing to stand behind a single feature that is advertised on the Longhorn site, and yet still willing to play the victim. We've now found the true myth about Longhorn; that Microsoft has any idea what is it or when it will ship.

I agree with you that the reply regarding the feature set is is somewhat "cloudy", all this spining can make it hard to see straight some times! However I'll defend scoble on not guessing Longhorns ship date. As Microsoft is a publicly traded company "guessing" at release dates as a Microsoft employee probably isn't the wisest course of action with respect to regulatory restrictions etc.

Posted by Ben Meadowcroft on 2004-05-26

I have a list of features, and a scheduled ship date. I've just learned (and not just from Microsoft either) that these lists and schedules are probabilities. They change all the time, and the schedules slip.

Also, I don't want to create expectations that turn out not to show up in the product.

This stuff can randomize a marketplace.

Plus, I've learned not to get ahead of execs in announcing things. Not good for the career.

That said, watch Channel9. Various people on various teams will respond to the myths that get printed.

Posted by Robert Scoble on 2004-05-27

So what you're saying is that

1. Longhorn might ship after 2006.
2. WinFS might not include all of the advertised features.

because the "lists and schedules are probabilities. They change all the time, and the schedules slip.". My real point is that it is somehow bad when I say it, and it is just being realistic when you say it.

Posted by Joe on 2004-05-27

Is it any surprise that Apple keeps such a tight lid on whether future Mac OS X updates even exist, at least until they have a pretty good idea of what they will include? They learned their lesson with vaporware releases (Pink, Taligent, Copland) in the 1990s. If you don't promise anything, few can be disappointed.

Posted by Derek on 2004-05-30